Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone on Friday denied he set up a military brothel during World War II when he was a naval officer, claiming the facility he built was only for "rest and recreation" for the engineering corps he led.
Reporters asked Nakasone to give details about the facility — what kind of recreation was enjoyed there and whether it included prostitutes.
He gave little information but said the men played the Japanese board game “shogi” and simply “got together.” He repeated many times that the facility was for “rest and recreation.”
However, Nakasone said Japan should make a straightforward apology to the comfort women, although he claims he has no firsthand knowledge about the facts.
“I have knowledge only from reading newspapers and such, but that’s a problem that Japan should apologize for,” Nakasone said.
The comfort women issue is “very regrettable,” and “we have expressed our sympathy for those who underwent such experiences and we feel sorry,” he said.
Nakasone’s denial is about a passage he wrote in a contribution to “Owarinaki Kaigun” (“The Navy Without End”), a collection of writings by navy war veterans.
“Some (soldiers) began assaulting (indigenous) women and others started to indulge in gambling. I took great pains to set up a comfort station for them,” he wrote.